The most powerful three words of a child predator are: “You are special.”
When a predator tells a child she is “special,” he is using the ultimate con, filling a huge void in a vulnerable child’s life. This grooming behavior allows a criminal full access into a child’s psyche to make it easy to sexually abuse the child. This behavior has been seen in almost every Catholic Diocese in the United States.
The story is replaying in college sports, where powerful men at Syracuse and Penn State have used their positions of power and fame to prey on children whom they also called “special.”
Now, new victims are coming forward: Hollywood’s former child actors. Surprising? No. These are children who have listened to powerful people tell them since infancy, “You are special.”
Alison Arngrim of “Little House on the Prairie” fame was one of the first former child stars to speak publicly about being sexually abused and advocate on behalf of other victims. Repeatedly molested by her brother, Arngrim found help early in life and now devotes her career to speaking out for others.
Since November, showbiz crimes have exploded in the media. A former “Sesame Street” composer, a child talent manager, and a casting agent for child actors have all been exposed as predators. In fact, one predator told authorities, “What they were doing was common practice in the entertainment industry.”
Corey Feldman is the latest child actor to come forward to tell his story of abuse. He won’t reveal the name of his predator.
Why the prevalence and secrecy in Hollywood? The same reasons abuse flourishes in the Catholic Church: Attitude, Fear, Cover-up and Power.
Director Roman Polanski pled guilty in 1977 to drugging and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. He then fled the country. Despite this, Hollywood has come to Polanski’s defense. Writer Gore Vidal went as far as to call the victim a “hooker.”
Polanski is still working, and actors are begging to star in his films. Would a working child actor tell anyone if Polanski abused them? Not if they wanted to ever work again.
Like in the Catholic Church, Hollywood’s children are disposable and replaceable.
But it’s the cover-up is the most insidious.
When Hollywood keeps silent about allegations of abuse, the veneer of the silver screen and television remain untarnished. The public can pay big money go to the movies, subscribe to cable, buy endorsed merchandise and believe in the illusion. We all ache to believe that the children on the screen are safe.
Just like Catholics ache to believe that if they put money in the collection basket, their children will be safe from abuse.
We have lost too many in young Hollywood and the Catholic Church to suicide, drugs and anguish. Our children are not disposable, and it is time that both the Catholic Church and Hollywood respect and cherish our greatest asset.
Photo of Corey Feldman from the Warner Bros film “Lost Boys:The Tribe” from Flickr user thirteenthbat under Creative Commons 2.0.